We need new therapies as new infectious organisms are discovered or well-known ones become drug-resistant. The flora and fauna with which we share the planet are a rich source of potent agents. Last year the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine was awarded for work elucidating a plant-derived treatment for malaria, and a parasite therapy derived from soil bacteria. Now, extracts of the rockrose Cistus incanus (pictured), which are rich in polyphenols – a class of chemical compound known for its anti-microbial and anti-viral activities – are being scrutinised in the laboratory. Researchers have found that extract of Cistus incanus prevented HIV from infecting cells, including a drug-resistant type. It also blocked the infectivity of HIV engineered to carry envelope proteins of both Ebola and Marburg viruses, suggesting broad anti-viral activity. Identifying the rockrose’s precise anti-viral ingredient will be the next step.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.